As anyone who’s had the misfortune to spend an afternoon shopping in the Arndale Centre, or had their eyes screaming ‘why!?’ at them with the misfortune of seeing Beetham Tower will know, God didn’t create Manchester on the seventh day, though he may have had a hand on blessing the city with some brilliant music, if not great buildings.
Such an important city in musical terms has been compiled many times before, but never as comprehensively as this. This compilation runs from the spark of punk fury ignited by the legendary Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall, to the big ideas of Tony Wilson and those early Factory records where the cover was better than the music, from being the birth place of The Smiths and a plethora of jangle acts to being the ecstasy capital of England, and with it having the most vibrant rave scene in the world (so vibrant in fact Creation records head honcho Alan McGee moved to the city, inadvertently influencing Primal Scream to make their 1991 landmark album, Screamadelica), to the birth and swift death of ‘baggy’, and finally being the home of the biggest band of the 1990s, Oasis.
This musical progression is documented over seven CDs, kicking off with the perfect punk pop of The Buzzcocks, observational poetry from John Cooper Clarke, the fury of Slaughter and the Dogs, and the trashy cover of "Louie Louie" by Jon The Postman, such cuts are followed by heavy dub, reggae, indie, rock, pre-C86 jangle, house, techno and hip hop. A Certain Ratio, Ludus, The Durutti Column, a pre-chart busting James and the angsty Chameleons share space with the gloomy indie pop of Syncopation and Dislocation Dance. Blue Orchids’ sneary post punk sits comfortably with the pure Indie pop of Desert Wolves and the glam racket of The Bodines.
There’s proto-rave from Quando Quango and 52nd Street, forgotten synth pop from Marcel King, Section 25’s gorgeous electronic doom on "Looking From a Rooftop", and with T-Coy's 'Carino' we have one of the greatest acid house tracks of all time. Perfectly reflecting the diverse multiculturalism of the city, the compilation also has space for reggae collective Harlem Spirit, the massively underrated rapper MC Buzz B, and with "And it Wasn’t a Dream" by Ruthless Rap Assassins you have one of the best hip hop tracks ever to come from the UK.
Although the compilation veers away from the obvious, to totally eschew major musical moments would be foolhardy, so despite their obviousness their inclusion is important. For anyone wondering why a city would have a hefty seven CD compilation dedicated to its rich musical history, you just need to look at some of the bigger tracks; Joy Division’s "She’s Lost Control" and the sinister, bass-heavy “The Light Pours Out Of Me” by Magazine are two of post punk’s most influential tunes which informed many more bands over the decades. Morrissey’s "Last of the Famous Internal Playboys”, "Rouche Rumble" by The Fall, New Order’s "Temptation", World of Twist’s "Sons of the Stage" and "Cubik" by 808 State are all unquestionable classics, all present and correct.
There's more - much more. "What the World is Waiting For" by The Stone Roses, "Sproston Green" by The Charlatans, "24 Hour Party People" by Happy Mondays and "Perfume" by Paris Angels are all crammed with the kind of funky swagger only the inhabitants of the city can pull off, and of course, with the super-group Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr and Neil Tennant as Electronic, we have one of the absolute best pop songs of all time with "Getting Away With It".
Obviously seven CDs need a major investment of time, but the investment is certainly rewarded.